When I was young, my parents never settled us in one place for very long. Moving around constantly, I never really established particularly deep roots, so it made sense when I adventured out on my own, first to a new state to attend college and then again when I decided I wanted to continue on to study physiotherapy in Ireland at the University College Dublin. The Atlantic Bridge Program answered all of my questions and facilitated my application, making the process as smooth as could be expected for taking such a big step outside of my comfort zone. In the end, the effort was well worth it as the year and a half I have spent in Ireland so far has been both amazing and more rewarding than I could have imagined.
Dublin as a city was certainly a change of pace from the smaller towns I had been used to, but it has become as much of a home to me as anywhere in the U.S. Though things like finding the right housing accommodation was a demanding test of will and determination, the overall day-to-day of life in Ireland is spectacular. It’s the simple things for me that really make it special, like listening to buskers on Grafton street at the weekend or spending an afternoon with friends in the gorgeous St. Stephen’s Green park. So far I’ve been able to see several gigs by my favorite bands and I even had the pleasure to meet my favorite author recently. There’s a great nightlife as well, and overall, there really is always something to do no matter your mood or disposition.
I should also add that it’s not just Dublin which has made my time here so enjoyable. Thanks to clinical placement opportunities in the physiotherapy curriculum, I’ve spent time living and working all around Ireland, meeting and helping a wide array of amazing people while having the opportunity to explore many of the wonders Ireland has to offer. These experiences have really helped my growth into a professional as well as a more culturally aware individual. Though not particularly large, Ireland can be very diverse and it has an enthralling history with depth and complexities I would never have known or fully appreciated without finding out in person.
As well as the outstanding clinical placement experiences, the physiotherapy program has undoubtedly delivered a top quality education across the board. Not only is the average class size for the Pre-Reg MSc program around 20 people which lends to a more tight knit group of students and better interaction with the staff, but the professors and frequent specialist guest lecturers are superb. There is also a great foundational structure in the course to incorporate the many incoming backgrounds of students as well as preparing us for the world of options and opportunities for after we graduate.
Without a doubt, my time at UCD and in Ireland has not only prepared me professionally for the challenges ahead, but it has been some of the most enjoyable times of my life thus far, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to study and live here.